What do Elise Molvik, an 18-year-old student from Norway, Lemawork Ketema, an Ethiopian refugee living in Austria, and Remigio Quispe, a farmer and father from Peru, have in common? They had never met until yesterday and their worlds could not be more different, yet on May 4, 2014, their names went down in history together.
These three very ordinary people did a truly extraordinary thing when they beat some of the biggest names in running, taking the glory in one of the most nail-biting finishes seen in a long-distance race.
Race Director Colin Jackson watched in excitement as they, along with 35394 others, ran to escape the Catcher Car in the very first Wings for Life World Run, the race without a finish line.
'It was such a proud moment, seeing all those runners out there made. Incredible!' ~ Colin Jackson, Race Director
Elise was the last woman to be caught and the first global winner, having run 54.79k on Norway’s stunning track:
'I was taken completely by surprise. I didn't know I was the global winner until after I finished', said the beaming 18 year old.
But it was Ketema and Quispe that really had the world on the edge of its seat. After Ketema had battled it out for pole position in Austria, his final fight got underway with the last runner in Peru, Remigio Quispe; they were neck and neck, thousands of miles apart but in the end it came down to 90 metres, with 78.48km in Peru and 78.57km covered in Austria.
Our first-ever Wings for Life World Run World Champions have now met, for the first time, in Salzburg. Lemawork Ketema, global champion of the Wings for Life World Run 2014 is a political refugee and couldn’t join the Winners' Adventure, the trip-around-the-world prize, because he doesn’t have a valid passport at the moment. Instead, he happily handed over his incredible prize to his new Facebook friend, second-placed Remigio Quispe, and Lemawork will receive financial support to help him in his new home of Austria and further foster his professional career.
So it is Elise and her sister, Maria, and Remigio with his eldest son, Jhon Gobin Huaman Matamoros, who will take the Winners' Adventure, the world tour where the winners will be wined and dined, fly with helicopters, dive with sharks, or just kick back and enjoy a run in some of the world’s most stunning places.
'The winners totally deserve this amazing adventure -- I'm sure they'll have a wonderful time. And it just goes to show: anyone can win this. I wonder who it'll be in 2015.' ~ Colin Jackson, Race Director
You can follow this incredible trip of a lifetime as Elise and Maria, and Remigio and his son have experiences that, once again, ordinary people can barely dream of. They’ll be in Salzburg (January 4 to 7), Cape Town (January 8 to 12), Hong Kong (January 13 to 16), Sydney (January 17 to 21), Hawaii (January 21 to 24), Los Angeles (January 25 to 28) and Rio de Janeiro (January 29 to February 1).
If you see them on their way, give them a clap and shake them by the hand. Then make sure you sign up for Wings for Life World Run on May 3, 2015, and take Wings for Life one step closer to finding the cure for spinal cord injury – and make your ordinary extraordinary.